Dave White
Upside Down Review

Dave's Rating:

2.5

Agreeably weightless

I already feel sorry for this movie. It's sliding quietly into theaters with almost no hype machine to prop it up and it's not going to screen in more than a few dozen theaters nationwide. Having missed the press screening, I bought one of the tickets that amounted to its whopping $28,000 opening weekend box office. Now you feel sorry for it, too, don't you?

You should. It's a groovy-looking object, an icy, blue-tinged, visually extravagant sci-fi romance between Adam (Jim Sturgess, you know where this is going) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst, see?), two people who look good even when visually forced on you all wrong. As in upside down, per the title. Frankly, you spend a lot of time looking up their nostrils. You have to be extra cute to pull that off.

Sturgess (who, at this point in his strange young career starring in mostly mediocre films, just biding his time until something clicks, has at least enough contract pull to make sure that his hair is artfully tousled at all times) is narrator, a citizen of the have-not planet that exists side-by-side with a gleaming, prosperous twin world where his life-long love Dunst resides. Because the planets have opposing gravitational fields, his voice-over explains, a person can "fall up" or "rise down." But mostly they just drink blue martinis by pouring them up into their mouths. It's a pretty awesome trick.

The two are already separated by gravity, Draconian laws and socio-economic forces that would make even an Atlas Shrugged devotee wince. So of course Eden goes and bonks her head and winds up with amnesia, forgetting her one true love's identity. Undercover Adam goes, into the cruel corporation TransWorld, where Eden works. He synthesizes a pink-bee pollen into an age-reversing beauty cream and, during his lunch breaks, attempts to jolt her memory back to a place that will allow them to resume extended sessions of horizontal double-gravity making out -- a kind of human sex rotisserie -- in their favorite pomegranate grove at the peak of two mountains where the two worlds almost touch. To get along and not be whooshed up into the sky in this opposite world he must wear "inverted matter" weights that, oops, set you on fire a little. And then a lot. Look, are you ready to watch this goofy thing yet? What if I told you that the film also includes scenes of upward urination and consumption of flying pink pancakes? Now will you help it break the $30,000 mark?

To really feel sorry for this movie, though, requires sitting through until the final scene. And you'll be happy to do that in spite of itself. It's that visually intoxicating, full of seamless effects creating dizzying dual mirror worlds that overwhelm the featherweight, inconsequential plot. But it'll be then when you realize it's going to have the audacity to set itself up for a sequel. Everything winds down, having delivered a cool-looking amount of not much, the boy-meets-gets-loses-reacquires-girl thing all settled, and Sturgess promises another chapter, one where history is changed by gravity belt innovations and love. "That's a story for another time," he says. Dude, it's just not.

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